Emancipation Proclamation Turns 150!

Although 150 is a respectable age for any document, a paper of such significance as Emancipation Proclamation deserves a special celebration for this milestone.

The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at the National Archives kicks off on December 30, 2012 with a rare (this only happens a few days a year) public viewing of the original official sealed manuscript. It will continue through January 24, 2013 with film viewings, performances and presentations. You can see the entire schedule here.

Preservation of the Proclamation is not easy. Printed on a poor quality machine-made paper, it has already sustained considerable damage from light and frequent handling, which is why it is so rarely on display. It has been carefully treated and the weak paper support has been mended and reinforced using the latest conservation techniques. The folio, which is folded and tied with a ribbon, has paper with an alkaline reserve placed behind (for possible acid-migration), then it is sealed between two layers of clear inert Mylar. When not on display, the framed document is placed in a four-flap folder, which goes inside a custom box, so it’s completely light and element safe.

Charles Dickens’ Holiday Treasures

Tired of endless shopping, crowded malls and traffic jams? “Bah, humbug!” Get into the real holiday spirit with something traditional and even a bit old-fashioned. And nothing says “traditional Christmas” better than Charles Dickens and his wise tales.

If you are our fellow New Englander and can visit Boston, for something truly special, try doing The Freedom Trail Foundation’s Historic Holiday Stroll. Offered Thursday to Sunday from November 18 to January 31 (holidays excluded), costumed tour guides dressed in Victorian garb will help you revisit the days when Boston hosted the triumphant American premiere of Charles Dickens holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Hear the story of how Christmas and holiday traditions evolved in Boston and the highlights of the American Revolution as it happened just 75 years earlier.

If you don’t feel like leaving the house and braving the elements, you can still enjoy some of the Dickensian magic, but in a different way. Project Boz (“Boz” was Dickens’ early pen name) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Gordon Library is helping modern readers experience the novels of Dickens in their original, serialized form. Famous for it’s rich collection of Charles Dickens materials, including rare first editions of almost all of his major works, manuscripts, and letters, the library is scanning and uploading for public access most of the novels in their original serial form, including original advertisements, and illustrations!

And if you are a world-traveler and just happen to be in London for the holidays, you simply MUST visit beautifully restored and just re-opened Charles Dickens Museum! For a “Very Dickensian Christmas” you can enjoy caroling and story telling, film screenings, walks and even festive food! It doesn’t get any better than that!

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
Charles Dickens

Memory of the World

UNESCO’s biennial Jikji Memory of the World Prize, established in 2004 and designed to promote preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage around the world is named after Jikji, the oldest existing book made with movable metal print.
The Prize consists of a biennial award of US$ 30,000 to individuals or institutions that have made significant contributions to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage. The award itself and the operating costs of the Prize as well as all costs related to the award ceremony are funded by the Republic of Korea. The Prize is open to the governments of Member States and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) maintaining formal relations with UNESCO.

2011 winner was National Archives of Australia, which plan on spending the prize (and matching it’s monetary value) on training the next generation of conservators, more specifically, to fund a six-months internship for conservation student Carolyn Milne who had started work in the conservation laboratory.

Here’s a long list of current nominants for 2012 award.

Traveling Exhibition Memory of the World

Mummy, dear…

Photo from the "in the Artifact Lab" blog by The Penn Museum Conservators.
The Penn Museum, which boasts one of the largest collections of Egyptian artifacts in the US, is giving the general public a chance to get uncommonly close and almost personal with some of them. In an effort to introduce visitors to the behind-the-scenes work of conservators, Penn created a workspace, surrounded by glass walls, in which the preservation processes can be observed. Moreover, Artifact Lab offers visitors a chance to speak with a conservator twice a day (Tuesday-Friday 11:15am and 2:00pm, Saturday-Sunday 1:00pm and 3:30pm). Apparently, the most common question people ask: “Is that a real mummy?”
Museum patrons can watch staff members use microscopes, brushes and other tools while they study and preserve the precious artifacts. Large screens allow visitors to admire the same magnified views as the professionals behind the glass wall. And if for some reason you can’t make a trip to Philadelphia, you can still follow the Lab’s wonderful blog, which features interesting facts about the artifacts, preservation tips (both preventive and restorative), tools and equipment used during conservation treatments and much, much more…

Size Does Matter, Archivally Speaking!

Durer ChariotNew exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, “Kings, Queens, and Courtiers: Royalty on Paper” features the best examples of the ways in which European monarchs and their aristocratic followers have been represented on paper from the sixteenth century to 1900. From formal portraits to few pointed caricatures and elaborate tributes, designed to convey the splendor, power, and virtues of the various royals and their courts. The highlight of the exhibits is a giant (it measures approximately 1.5 feet high 8 feet long) print Triumphal Chariot of Maximilian I by Albrecht Dürer. The epic artwork, dated 1522 (but started in 1518) is really a composite image printed from 8 separate wood blocks created by Willibald Pirckheimer.

When faced with a task of preserving artifacts of such grandeur and splendor (not in the least by the sheer size of the pieces) one can’t help but wonder how hard it must be to preserve it, so it can retain it’s present glory for the generations to come.

University Products prides itself on its ability to provide custom solutions for archivists, museum conservators, librarians and the amateur collectors. From Clear Plastic Enclosures (designed to fit posters and extra large panoramic prints) and Oversized Folders (which can house artwork, photos and really big ephemera), to Custom Sized boxes, our products can accommodate practically any artifact no matter how big (or small).


BIG:
Giant Size Archival Scrapbook Album
Panoramic Print Folders
Unbuffered Large Print File Folders
Polypropylene Textile Storage Boxes
Movie Poster L-Velopes
Custom Boxes

SMALL:
Mix and Match Artifact/Specimen Trays
Full View Artifact Boxes
Polyethylene Zipper Bags
Magnifiers & Portable Microscopes
Stamp/Art Mounting Strips
Color Coded Coin Holders

Pushing the Envelope at the NEMA Meeting

John Dunphy & Pat Foster, NEMA, 2012The New England Museum Association (NEMA) annual meeting was held in Burlington, VT. November 7, 8 & 9 and University Products was there to debut its new Archival Quality Materials catalog. In the booth was Pat Foster, Vice President of Marketing and John Dunphy, Vice President & General Manager. They displayed a variety of new products that have been added to the product line and illustrated in the 2013 catalog. Attendees got practical ideas and useful tips from top museum experts as they explored this year’s theme, “Pushing the Envelope: Innovation and the Future of Museums.” The conference was an opportunity for museum professionals to meet key colleagues, expand their professional network, and share their opinions in lively discussions with museums big and small. UPI booth at NEMA, 2012Also exhibiting were our New England neighbors which include the Northeast Document Conservation Center out of Andover, MA, Collector Services from Easthampton, MA and Small Corp from Greenfield, MA among others. It was nice to see representatives from our local museum, the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke in attendance as well as our friends from Smith College in Northampton.

NEMA Scholarship
John Dunphy & Rachel Lovett, NEMA, 2012Rachel Lovett, Curator at the Hanover (MA), Historical Society was the recipient of the University Products’ annual sponsorship of the New England Museum Association (NEMA) scholarship. The scholarship helps to offset the cost of attending the annual conference. In addition to her work at the Hanover Historical Society, Rachel attends the Harvard Museum studies program. Her attendance at the conference, this year held in Burlington, VT, allowed Rachel to seek out new ideas and current trends in the field. “I believe that attending NEMA will help enhance my museum skill set at work as well as in school,” Rachel said.

Eric Carle Picture Book Museum Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Eric Carle MuseumOn November 10, 2012, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, will start celebrating its 10th anniversary.  It will mark the occasion with  special events, exhibitions, and family activities. Book festivals, special guest speakers from around the world, and educational workshops are also planned as part of the year long celebration.

The museum, which opened in November 22, 2002, has become quite an attraction for tourists as well as local book lovers, and of course, kids of all ages. Founded by Barbara and Eric Carle, the museum is dedicated to showcasing some of the most outstanding examples of children’s book art. It features many pieces of original artwork and sketches for some of the most well known picture books, beautifully preserved and elegantly displayed in the airy, contemporary halls of the museum. The museum also offers opportunities to create your own future masterpieces, watch a theater production or meet a famous author.

University Products congratulates the wonderful Eric Carle Museum, it’s founders and staff with the anniversary! Our own love for books is obvious in the variety of book-related products we offer. From repair tapes to bookbinding tools, from protective enclosures to exhibition displays, we’ve got it all! Check out Book Arts & Maintenance and Book Displays and Racks sections of our online catalog, and don’t forget these ultimate Book Lover’s gifts – elegantly appointed  Book Repair Kit and Rare Book Display Pillows, which were recently featured in Fine Books and Collections Magazine.

American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month is celebrated in November to recognize Native cultures and to educate the public about the heritage, history, art, and traditions of the American Indian and Alaska Native people.

Native American Heritage Month Website, which is a collaboration of 8 major museums and institutions has a comprehensive list of various events, exhibits, demonstrations, and online resources available for a better understanding of the rich history and amazing traditions of the indigenous peoples of America.

• National Park Services has Tribal Preservation Programs & Grants designed to help repair some of the damage done in the last 500 years to the tribes and aid in restoring language, tradition, religion, objects, and sites.

• National Archives website has an entire section dedicated to the Native American Records, in which you can research records for a specific person (arranged by tribe), as well as other available online resources, hundreds of scanned rare photos and historical records pertaining to Native Americans.

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has a state-of-the-art museum conservation facility, which includes separate laboratories for working on textiles and objects, a technical library, a photography studio, a scientific analytical lab, and mount-making spaces. The conservators participate in outreach, training and research projects conducted by the NMAI, collaborate with other institutions on special programs and, of course, take an important part in restoring, preserving and preparing artifacts for being displayed in the museum. The recently opened five-year exhibition called Circle of Dance presents Native dance as a vibrant, meaningful, and diverse form of cultural expression. The museum uses costume displays and a large-screen video to illuminate 10 Native American dances. Both Washington, DC and New York locations of NMAI are ready to celebrate the Heritage Month with a calendar full of events.

How to Dress a Garment

wistariahurst museum holyoke maWistariahurst is a grand yet charming mansion of the prominent silk manufacturer, William Skinner and his family. The house was built in 1874 and owned continually by the Skinner family until in 1959, when the heirs donated Wistariahurst to the City of Holyoke for cultural and educational purposes. Now it is a beautifully maintained museum, dedicated to the preservation of the local history and it’s artifacts. It houses extensive collections of decorative arts; paintings and prints, textiles and manuscripts of family and local papers.

wistariahurst archival textile boxes university productsBut what the public doesn’t normally see would be a real treat for the archival enthusiast’s eye. The back rooms are filled with neat rows of archivally safe boxes (for the most part – manufactured right here, next door, at the University Products plant in Holyoke, MA) in different sizes and configurations. From huge textile boxes to convenient document cases, all meticulously and creatively labeled. The large textile collection is carefully preserved with convenient and versatile coverings, designed and produced by devoted museum volunteer Gloria Carver. We are very grateful to her for the delightful story she wrote for us:

I had been a Wistariahurst volunteer for a number of years before Penni Martorell began working on housing the museum’s textile collection in the new Carriage House at Wistariahurst.  Many of their costumes were stored in boxes, but quite a few were left on hangers and needed to have some sort of covering to keep away the inevitable layer of dust.  Knowing my interest in textiles, Penni asked if I’d like to research the best method to cover this portion of the collection. It wasn’t long before I found a pattern for a garment cover on a government site of archival textile storage. I love to sew and I was ready to go to work!

What could be easier than to whip up a basic cover like a cleaner’s plastic bag only in cotton? Armed with the drawing of the pattern, I made a full-sized pattern and began waiting for sales of muslin at the local fabric store.  For the first group of covers, the museum purchased two bolts of fabric and I began sewing my contribution to Wistariahurst.  We realized that the covers would have to have easy access to the costume, which meant one side would be open and the other closed.  This also meant that we needed to have some kind of inexpensive closure for this open side.  Finally I would be able to put my horde of white bias tape to good use!  The last piece of work was to adhere a plastic backed pocket/label on the left front and then sew this label on to ensure its staying power.  Inside the clear pocket goes a photo of the costume inside the garment bag.  Now all it takes is a quick look at the photo to find a desired costume, which is securely protected from dust and soil.  I estimate that it takes about three hours to make one cover.

These first twenty or so came out so well that I volunteered to make another batch.  The only difference was that I had run out of white bias tape for the ties and had to resort to using my collection of various colors!  Now when you look at the row of formal looking white covered garments in the textile archives, you’ll see a bright assortment of pink, blue, yellow, green, etc. colored ties to spark up the the proper row of costumes waiting for another special exhibit.

Story by Gloria Carver, Wistariahurst Museum, Holyoke, MA

Celebrating American Archives Month All Across America

October is designated throughout the United States as American Archives month. The month was founded in 1969 by the Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, but now Archives Month is a collaborative effort by professional organizations and repositories. Society of American Archivists (SAA) takes active part in promoting and developing the month-long celebration, raising much needed public awareness and providing professionals with new ways to attract attention to the priceless treasures they preserve and valuable services they provide. Instruction on how to preserve family photographs and documents are also usually provided in each state. The majority of the states get involved and plan out different sorts of activities that pertain to archiving. You can follow the ongoing events by searching for hash tag #ArchivesMonth on Twitter and also by visiting SAA on Facebook.

Throughout Archives Month, museums, libraries, and other archival institutions all across the country are celebrating by defining their respective histories and the ways that make them unique to one another. Each participating state designed a poster that reflects the chosen theme while showcasing some of the finest archival ephemera and photo treasures normally hidden in boxes and folders.

Some states picked very unusual and original topics for 2012 Archives Month. For example, Washington is presenting it’s illustrious history of crooks, cops, and courts. University of Texas at Austin Archives were inspired by fashion and clothing, while The Oregon State Historical Records Advisory Board concentrated on a more serious issue by commemorating the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in Oregon. From maps to music and home videos… Hey, even Rock&Roll Hall of Fame got in on some archival action 🙂

You can see the more comprehensive list of activities and themes on SAA’s site designated to Archives Month. or on the Council of State Archivists Archives Month Directory site, which sorted them by state.